Benzodiazepine Addiction and Abuse

More than 21 million people in the United States have a substance use disorder. Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, involving reward, motivation, and memory. People with an addiction may be unable to stop their addictive behavior, display a lack of self-control, dismiss how their behavior is causing problems, and lack an emotional response.

Addiction can have a major impact on both the individual and the people close to them, including friends and colleagues. A common and highly dangerous substance use addiction in the United States is benzodiazepine addiction.

In this guide, we will highlight everything you need to know about benzodiazepine addiction, including common signs of abuse and treatment options. Let’s get started.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines, colloquially known as “benzos”, are a type of sedative medication. They are primarily used for treating anxiety, both in adults and children, as well as people with conditions such as panic attack disorder and insomnia. They are known to be effective at treating symptoms such as:

  • Agitation
  • Increased activity
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Distractibility

Because taking benzodiazepines increase a person’s risk for addiction, they are typically limited to short-term use. Generally, a person should not be prescribed benzodiazepines for more than two to four weeks at the lowest effective dose.

Some of the common benzodiazepines that are available include:

  • Xanax
  • Librium
  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Restoril
  • Halcion

Benzodiazepines work by slowing down the nervous system and have a sedative effect that works to relieve anxiety. While benzodiazepines can help with a number of health issues, they are also known to worsen some conditions. These include depression, hypoxia, and fibromyalgia.

What Are the Common Signs of Abuse?

Benzodiazepines are highly addictive. A person who abuses benzodiazepines faced a number of dangerous symptoms, including behavioral, physical, and psychological symptoms. Some of the common signs of abuse include:

  • Poor judgment
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness
  • Mood changes
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Inability to cut back on the volume of abuse
  • Combining benzodiazepines with other drugs

Chronic abuse of benzodiazepines can result in even more serious symptoms. These include anorexia, anxiety, memory problems, tremors, headaches, and insomnia.

As with other substances, people build up a natural tolerance to benzodiazepines over time. This means that a higher volume is required to reach the familiar high.

When a person stops abusing benzodiazepines, they will experience withdrawal symptoms, which can be incredibly serious. Therefore, it is advised that a person undergoes medical detox under the direct care of a medical professional.

Behavioral Signs of Benzodiazepine Abuse

Let’s take a closer look at the behavioral signs of abuse, that a close friend or family member may be able to spot. For example, a person with a benzodiazepine addiction may withdraw from their normal obligations, family members, and friends. Their performance at work may decrease and their interest in social activities may reduce.

The person may also do things uncharacteristic of their nature in order to pay for the drug. These include stealing, borrowing from friends or family, maxing out credit cards, and draining money from their bank accounts.

Another behavioral sign is if a person displays a reduction in efforts to maintain grooming and/or hygiene. For example, you may notice that the person begins to look more disheveled than they usually would. While spending time with the person, you may also notice shifts in their personality or mood.

Understanding Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

As noted above, a person who suddenly stops taking a drug is likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. This occurs as their brains adjust to the absence of the drug.

In the case of benzodiazepine addiction, these symptoms can start within just a few hours of the last dose. Some of the common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Severe cravings
  • Hallucinations
  • Shakiness or tremors
  • Increased body temperature
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Racing pulse
  • Seizures

To avoid the onset of any such symptoms, a person’s dosage should be gradually lowered by a doctor.

Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction

The good news is that treatment for benzodiazepine addiction is available and it is effective. Depending on the person’s situation and unique needs, there are several different benzodiazepine rehab formats and therapies available. These include:

  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Aftercare

Within treatment itself, there are a range of behavioral therapy techniques that can be used. One of these is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This helps people to change unhelpful actions, thoughts, and beliefs, and to develop better stress management skills, which helps to avoid relapse.

Other therapy options here include contingency management and motivational enhancement therapy. In the case of contingency management, this utilizes positive reinforcement by rewarding behaviors that are desirable, such as staying sober and attending treating, with rewards.

Find Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment Programs

If you or someone who love suffers from benzodiazepine addiction, help and treatment is available. Here in South Florida, Comprehensive Wellness Centers is your leading choice for effective care. Our substance abuse treatment options include:

Remember, you don’t have to face recovery alone. Our experience and compassionate team are here to help. With us, you will find the personalized care and support you need to recover from your addiction (we don’t believe in a “one-size-fits-all” treatment plan).

To learn more about our benzodiazepine detox and treatment programs, speak to a representative today. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you to recover your quality of life. Get started today by clicking here.

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